Ah, lunch, most kids’ favorite class of the day is a delicious, fun escape from school.
Unfortunately, lunch can also be the sickliest period of the school day. The culprit is one of the least likely suspects to harbor harmful germs and bacteria.
An alarming new study reveals almost 73 percent of school lunch boxes and bags contain high bacteria levels. That means seven in 10 fabric lunch boxes tested contain dangerous mold boasting the ability to trigger health problems including asthma and eczema. A study commissioned by the makers of e-cloth found one in five lunch boxes tested contained Staphylococci – bacteria with a lousy habit of residing in the body. This can cause serious cases of food poisoning if ingested in food.
Even worse, a 2017 study by the television program “The Doctors” backed up e-cloth’s study, finding 1 in 5 American lunch boxes and bags contained staph.
And kids thought the school’s mystery casserole was terrible.
The reason for the worrisome high levels of high bacteria lunch boxes and bags will come as no surprise to America’s teachers.
“The high volumes of non-food-borne bacteria suggests that we aren’t washing our hands before we pack or eat from our lunch boxes,” e-cloth spokesman Laurence Smith told The (UK) Sun. “It also shows that we aren’t cleaning them properly either, which is allowing mold to spore and bacteria to grow.”
So, a SpongeBob Square Pants, Doc McStuffins or Pokémon lunch box may have a cool-looking exterior, but beware the germs that hide under the glossy surface of America’s lunch boxes and bags.
“They might look clean, with their shiny interior, and often, all we’ll do is shake out the crumbs,” Smith said, “but there is an underworld of invisible germs growing that we all need to be aware of.”
For when mold spores, it can cause additional health problems such as itchy eyes, migraines, coughs and more troublesome illnesses. E-cloth researchers also found high traces of Staphylococcus Aureus and enterococci in a substantial number of lunch boxes tested. “The Doctors” study found fabric lunch bags were dirtier than plastic or metal lunch boxes.
The good news for America’s lunch boxes and bags is there is an easy cure at the fingertips of everyone of the country’s schoolchildren. Washing hands with soap or water or using hand sanitizer before and after lunch prevents bacteria from easily transferring from our skin to our food.
For parents, clean your children’s lunch boxes after every use. Bacteria and mold will party, thrive and multiply if left unattended. To clean lunch boxes, use white vinegar (a household germ that naturally disinfects lunch boxes) and wipe clean. Also sprinkle baking soda into lunch boxes and leave overnight.
The washing machine is a heavy-duty lunch box cleaning machine.
“Many lunch backs or school bags will come with instructions on washing and should be followed,” Paul Horowitz, MD, former medical director at Pediatrics Clinics at Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore., told WebMD.com. “Disinfecting wipes work really well for nonporous surfaces like lunch boxes.”
For no kid wants to eat a side dish of harmful bacteria with their lunch.